It’s more than a year out, but Mountain View’s 2020 election for City Council is already beginning to take shape.
According to city filings, at least two political veterans are throwing their hats into the ring. One-term Councilman Lenny Siegel, who lost his bid for re-election in 2018, said he intends to give it another try at the ballot box. Mayor Lisa Matichak confirmed that she will seek a second term in office next November.
The two candidates set the stage for an election that is certain to be lively. Matichak and Siegel in some ways embody the city’s rival political camps. Matichak has championed quality of life issues for current Mountain View residents, striving to temper city growth without diminishing existing services. Siegel has embraced social justice issues, prodding Mountain View to push the envelope on building more housing while protecting low-income residents.
Suffice it to say, the two don’t appear to get along well. Matichak accidentally blasted out an email earlier this year that indicated her intentions to “thwart” Siegel’s agenda. Meanwhile, Siegel has not hesitated to publicly excoriate Matichak and her allies for actions that he says harm the city's most vulnerable.
Most recently, Siegel has taken particular umbrage at the city’s ban on oversized vehicles, an action that would restrict where homeless people living out of vehicles could park. He has pledged to help bring a measure to the ballot next year to overturn the so-called RV ban, which could coincide with the City Council election.
Matichak and Siegel also part ways in regard to rent control and the dueling ballot measures to modify the law to make it more palatable to landlords. The two proposals include one measure by the state's largest landlord lobby to make rent control essentially unenforceable and a milder initiative that is still being drafted by a City Council subcommittee. It's unclear whether the rent control measures will go before voters in the March or November elections, but the issue is certain to influence the City Council race.
Four City Council seats will be up in the November 2020 election, which are currently occupied by Matichak, Margaret Abe-Koga, Chris Clark and John McAlister. Under the city’s term limits, Clark and McAlister will not be allowed to run again until 2022.
When asked, Abe-Koga told the Voice she would “likely” run again, although she still hasn’t made a final decision.
According to city election filings, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Thida Cornes could also be considering a council run. Cornes last ran for City Council in 2016, and her campaign treasury still has about $8,500. She declined to say whether she intends to run again.